After weeks of “Will they or won’t they?” suspense, Gossip Girl‘s Dan and Blair finally took their flirtation beyond flirtation with a big kiss in last night’s pre-spring finale. What’s more, the eventful hour also saw the departure of a major recurring character (Ben), the return of Serena’s pa (William Baldwin), and… did I mention a certain seismic smooch? To help us make sense of the madness, and tide us over during the seven-week hiatus, here’s exec producer Josh Safran with an exclusive post-mortem-slash-sneak peek.
TVLINE | After last night’s kiss, can we now say that Dan and Blair are moving in the direction of a romance?
I don’t want to say that or not say that. We made a very conscious choice to take Dan and Blair slowly. We’re well aware that we can put couples together and break them up much faster than other shows can. And we really wanted to build what we felt has been there since season 1 in “Bad News Blair,” when Dan and Blair had their little moment in the hallway where they talked about their problems with their parents. So we just sort of realized that they had this long brewing friendship-slash-whatever it was. So I think what you can hope for is that Dan and Blair will continue to be connected and that story will continue to grow.
TVLINE | You’ve explored every possible romantic combination over the past four years. What sets the Dan/Blair combo apart in your eyes?
We always knew we wanted to do this. We actually toyed with doing it last year, but we felt that it was too soon. We wanted to wait as long as possible — and that helped the story. Because it felt like it was a long time coming and you were ready to go there with them. We hope to continue following it, maybe in unexpected ways.
TVLINE | Skeptics would say this Dan/Blair thing is just a temporary diversion until Blair returns to Chuck. Did you leave open the possibility that if Dan and Blair really clicked — and for my money they have — that maybe it’s not all about Chuck and Blair?
One thing we are very conscious of — and I know some fans get upset about this — is we really try to treat the characters as living, breathing, well-rounded individuals. And we’re often surprised by where their journeys take them; they open new doors for us all the time. It’s not like we’re saying, “No, there’s only this one couple and that’s it.” We really believe in going on a journey with them, which I know for some people can be frustrating. But for us it can be creatively fulfilling to go, like, “Wow. Dan and Blair have had this connection that has always been there. And they are maturing and growing older and whereas before they might’ve looked down on that connection maybe they can now find some solace in that connection. That is a fun thing to witness. Chuck and Blair are always going to be connected in their way, and Dan and Serena are always going to be connected in their way. But that doesn’t mean that there won’t be new roads to go down that might be different than what we initially anticipated.
TVLINE | Are you a Dan/Blair fan?
I’m a fan of all the characters. [Laughs] I really am. I love them all.
TVLINE | But when you watch them together…
I wrote that scene in “Bad News Blair” with the two of them in the hallway, so I’ve been a fan of them from the beginning. But I’m also very much a fan of Chuck and Blair and Dan and Serena.
TVLINE | Talk to me about the decision to do a freeze-frame of the kiss at the end of the episode as opposed to something more traditional, like a fade-to-black or just letting the kiss play out.
We’re off the air for seven weeks so we wanted to make a cliffhanger out of it. We often follow kisses all the way through and we stop after they pull apart and the question would be, “What are they thinking?” We really wanted instead to let the audience project what that kiss is. “How long does it go on for? What happens after?” They could be kissing for seven weeks. [Laughs]
TVLINE | Will we pick up mid-kiss when the show returns or are we jumping seven weeks ahead?
We are not jumping seven weeks ahead.
TVLINE | So we’ll still be in that moment?
I am not going to say that.
TVLINE | Switching gears, was last night Ben’s farewell?
TVLINE | So have you pretty much closed the book on the Juliet story?
Not exactly. As you witnessed by Lily turning herself in, that arc will continue for the rest of the season, it just changes in certain ways. First they were going after Serena, then you realized it was really Lily who did it, then these six episodes were Lily coming to grips with what she did, and then the last five episodes of the season will follow that through. It’s one big arc about paying for your sins and what that means, which is paralleled by Chuck dealing with the sin that has come to light about his father.
TVLINE | Speaking of which, why did Chuck take Russell at his word? Isn’t it possible this was just another one of his manipulations?
Keep watching. What you are saying is not something that slipped by us. We have a plan.
TVLINE | Why was Chuck so desperate to connect with Blair after the bombshell was dropped on him?
Whenever Chuck learns information that impacts him, she’s the only one he can talk to. That’s the person he connects with the most. That’s the person he can let his guard down around and [confess] what he’s really feeling.
For more from Safran, including the latest on the rumored returns of Georgina and Jenny, stand by for this week’s Ask Ausiello. In the meantime, hit the comments with your thoughts about Dair, Chair, and other assorted GG mash-ups.